Pat Popolizio was named head wrestling coach for the Wolfpack on April 10, 2012, and the results have already shown both on the mat and on the recruiting trail.
Following his first campaign, Popolizio and his staff signed a top-rated recruiting class in the spring of 2013. The Pack's signees were ranked: No. 4 according to D1collegewrestling, No. 10 by both WIN Magazine and InterMat, No. 13 by the Open Mat/AWN and No. 14 by Flo Wrestling.
In his intital season as head coach for the Pack, NC State had three wrestlers qualify for the 2013 NCAA Championships, placing 63rd overall. Following the season, Nick Gwiazdowski and Thomas Gannt competed at the U.S. World Team Trials.
"Pat is a builder of programs and of young men," said NC State AD Debbie Yow. "He was an outstanding collegiate performer at Oklahoma State and is a proven teacher and mentor as a head coach. He will lead Wolfpack Wrestling to compete for ACC titles and, eventually, the national championship."
In six seasons at Binghamton University (2007-12) , Popolizio transformed the Bearcats into a national contender after inheriting the program that went 0-12 following its reinstatement in 2005-06. Among his highlights with the Bearcats:
14th at the 2012 NCAA Championships 21st at the 2010 NCAA Championships 2010 CAA Champions Two-time CAA coach of the year (2012 and 2010) Candidate for national coach of the year in 2010 Four All-Americans and 21 NCAA qualifiers over six seasons CAA Wrestler of the Year and CAA Rookie of the Year in both 2012 and 2010 15-4 dual meet mark in 2011-12 was a school record .789 winning percentage School record 16 wins in 2010-11
Binghamton's meteoric rise on the mat has been mirrored in the classroom. Popolizio substantially improved the program's Academic Performance Rate (APR) from 727 to 957 between 2006 and 2011. In his final season, the Bearcats earned individual 2012 National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Academic honors and boasted 10 CAA Commissioner's Academic Award honorees. In 2009, Popolizio's team ranked 17th in the country academically. BU wrestlers also placed a high priority on community service, recently helping residents at emergency shelters and in their neighborhoods after historic flooding hit the area.
Prior to his stint at Binghamton, Popolizio was the lead assistant and recruiter at American University for two seasons, helping that program finish 17th in the country. At American, he coached seven NCAA qualifiers and the school's first All-American. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at Army (2003-04) and Sacred Heart (2002-03). His team at Sacred Heart achieved the highest grade-point average of any wrestling program in the country.
Prior to entering the coaching ranks, Popolizio was a decorated wrestler during his student-athlete career for Oklahoma State coach John Smith, a six-time world champion. Among his highlights during his collegiate career:
Three-time NCAA qualifier Won greater than 90 matches Ranked No. 1 in the country at 184 pounds during senior year Helped lead Oklahoma State to Top 5 national finishes (second, third, third and fifth) at NCAA Championships in each of his four seasons in Stillwater Big 12 runner-up in 1998 and 2002 Fifth at the World Team Trials in 2003 2002 Oklahoma State Hustle Award
Popolizio graduated in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in health and physical education. He was a two-time Big 12 All Academic selection and five-time recipient of the Oklahoma State Student-Athlete Award.
At the prep level, Popolizio was a New York state scholastic champion for Niskayuna High. He was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the 1996 state prep meet, where he captured the 177-pound title, and went on to become the national high school runner-up.
What They Are Saying About Pat Popolizio "North Carolina State's hiring of Pat Popolizio is an excellent decision. He is one of the best young wrestling coaches in the United States. I appreciate Debbie Yow's commitment to wrestling at Maryland and now at North Carolina State. Her choices in the hiring of head wrestling coaches have been brilliant."
- John Smith, Head Wrestling Coach Oklahoma State
"I had the great fortune of coaching Pat as an assistant at Oklahoma State and had the pleasure of having him as my assistant coach at American University. He mentored many of our wrestling greats, including Daniel Waters, Josh Glenn and Mike Cannon. As an assistant coach, Pat was always eager to learn and we had many lengthy discussions about the importance of holding athletes to high standards and doing all we could do to make it a great experience for our student-athletes.
"Pat went onto Binghamton University, and I feel that what he has done there is amazing. With his great leadership, the Binghamton wrestling program has reached unimaginable heights. Pat is one of the brightest young coaches we have in our sport. Well done North Carolina State - great hire."
- Mark Cody, Head Wrestling Coach Oklahoma
"On behalf of the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Board of Directors, I want to congratulate North Carolina State on their recent hiring of Pat Popolizio as their new head wrestling coach. Coach Popolizio represents the `gold standard' in our coaching profession as evidenced by his phenomenal success at Binghamton University. He has a national reputation for recruiting elite students and athletes and then bonds them together into nationally competitive teams."
- Mike Moyer, Executive Director National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA)